embroiled

I see children and I don’t want them but I’m glad someone does. They’re probably hungry and in need of discipline. Weekends come and go like deep breaths between five-day spans of hyperventilation and all I can think about lately is how I want to be apart, to be left alone but not lonely, no, being left alone is not the same thing as lonely, not at all. Left alone means not being fixed or tended to or persuaded that the common portrait of happiness isn’t just an odious image of misery made all the more digestible for its miserable ubiquity. You know the one, you’ve seen that picture: that guy and/or that girl you knew/know, the couple (married), on a beach (sandy), mid-thirties (time flies), weight gained (contentment), careers solidified (certainty), posing with practiced smiles that are nevertheless somehow reflective of actual pleasure (lobotomies), grinning offspring nearby (well-fed and undisciplined, smiles also already practiced—terrifying), one, the baby, perhaps being held by mom (so tender), the other adhered to dad (so mild), what treasures, what luck, what magic, what memories, what a fucking nightmare.

I have a heartbeat irregularity and good posture so there are two things about me that have nothing to do with anything or anyone else. One day I’ll be old and my heartbeat might be a problem and my posture won’t be so good but I’ll still be tall and I wonder if that’ll be the only way anyone will look up to me. I want to be great, and I say that without even a dash of snark, not even a hint, so it truly makes no difference whether I’m good or not in the interim if interim is all there be, just purgatorio bookended by infernos I was, first, too unborn and, second, too dead to appreciate, but it would make all the difference in the world—my world, meaning—if I could wake up each morning and feel something other than dread or the dread-ridden and frantic scramble search for some means of its mitigation.

Or maybe it wouldn’t. I’ll grow old and feeble either way, barring some mishap, purposeful or otherwise. The only difference will be whether I have something meaningful to look back upon and sit with and talk to/about or if I’ve just been busy dying and posing for photos on the beach with some stranger with whom I’ve shared my entire life with our younger, hungrier, less disciplined versions of ourselves in tow, my life one of profound triviality contrasting with the magnitude of my perdition. A quote, that is, from Pevear, I believe, and a great concern no matter what course my life takes. Because when I look homeward from wherever I am, old and bent and heartbeat skipping a few of its own drummer’s beats here and there, I have to be able to stomach the notion that “men do not escape from life because life is dull, but that life escapes from men because men are little” and not think oh how right how right he was and how small I’ve been, how I’ve let it slip.[1]

Being in the world, they say, that’s what it’s all about, children and spouses and beach photos or no. I say it depends what they mean by “being” and “world” and “in” and they shake their heads in lieu of scratching because they think they’ve already got me pegged. But I beg and plead and shout and claw and strain to differ. No, you kindhearted fools, it’s not weakness or fear or even good old-fashioned impertinence that leads me away off on my own, searching for delicious distances and delectable detachments and cooking away in my laboratory full of beakers and tubes and all manner of scientific shit till I discover the black magic elixir of being so apart as to be intensely, almost madly present, perhaps even unlearning the world’s ways and regressing to a nascent state of curious, intense nonparticipation, one big, final Irish exit and they’ll all say “where’d he go, I didn’t even see him leave” and I’ll think “that’s right, my darling fools, this is how I love you and you must trust I do.” I just hope someone notices I’m gone.

 


[1] Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 479. A damn good book, that.

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